When the power is gone, all that remains is your deeds

January 11, 2013 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom 


“Ah just hope that when he leaves office, he can enjoy what he has helped to destroy.”
Oh, sorry, just in case somebody thought I was referring to someone in Guyana, I was in fact referring then to former President George W. Bush who served two terms as the President of the United States of America.
George Bush left America in crisis. This is the same country to which he had to return as a civilian for the remainder of his life.
Life is not easy for him in a country where thousands have lost their jobs and are facing hard times. Moments after he returned to his home State, ridicule was thrown in his face. Well, not literally, but rather at an effigy at which boots were pelted in bidding farewell to the former Commander in Chief.
The advice that his successor, Barack Obama, gave to those leaders around the world who blame America for their problems, could equally be applied to his homeland and to other countries to whom he may not have been referring.
Obama said that the leaders of those countries should realize that their people will judge them by what they build and not by what they destroy. George W. Bush went back to civilian life to live in an economy which he helped to destroy; he has gone back to reflect on a world that he left in tatters following his ill-advised excursions into Iraq and Afghanistan and his misguided Middle East policy.
Bush still however has the consolation of knowing that there is still a segment of the American population, a significant number, who felt that his policies were correct and who will offer him their support. He is enjoying a great deal of benefits and status and will have a coterie of friends to whom he can turn.
But what about politicians in small societies like Guyana, who when they leave office have little to look forward to? Yes, many of these politicians have found that the return to civilian life is lonely and desolate, and often they are disregarded in the streets of Guyana.
In our own country, we have seen how the mighty have fallen and been left isolated by their supporters and friends upon losing power.
I have seen an instance of one powerful figure in the Burnham administration being stripped of all power and being forced on one occasion to have to run out of this country.
I have seen political leaders when they are in power being surrounded by friends and well wishers that would do anything to retain the friendship of these leaders. But when these leaders no longer have power, I have seen their friends vanish like ninjas.
When you are on top of the world, the whole world knows you. When your power recedes then is when you know your true friends. There will be many who will court your friendship when you have power, but when your power is gone, they too will disappear and if pressured they will sing like a canary.
True friends are hard to find. Too much friendship is based on self-interest, not itself a bad thing, but such friendships do not last and often disappear after the interests would have been satisfied.
This is why I have always advised those with power to choose your friends carefully and treat everyone with kindness. But more importantly, do not unwillingly make enemies; do not trample on the rights of others; do not treat people with indifference and scorn; do not wrong anyone, because one day you too shall have to return to civilian life. And, especially in small societies like ours, the powerful who find themselves powerless often end up being helpless and lonely.
I have known many a person in Guyana who used to walk the streets with an air of pomp and superiority. I have seen many of them run away from Guyana because they could not face what they did to this country and the many persons whom they treated unjustly.
So do good, build and not destroy, forgive rather than punish, be fair and considerate. If you do these things, the world to which you return when you retire will be a better place because you would have helped to make it so.

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